Julie Hall is twenty-five, has a terrible secret, and a strange ability to find dead bodies using a pair of dowsing rods. What happens when it hits close to home, any place she can call her home?
I read A Grave Calling, the first book in the series, by chance. I was looking for something different from mainstream fantasy and found the series next on NetGalley. I don’t like to start a mystery series midway so picked up the first book.
This review is for books 1 and 2 from the series Bodies of Evidence.
The first book introduces us to a responsible new adult (think that’s the right term?) who works at a gas station to support herself and takes care of her grandfather besides helping people find the dead bodies of their loved ones with the help of a pair of dowsing rods that were traditionally used to locate water sources.
Julie Hall is not really the correct name. A personal trauma from her younger life caused her to call herself by her middle name and live like a recluse, mostly. A boyfriend who didn’t sound warm enough, a girl-bestie who didn’t sound like she ever had Julie’s best interest in her heart, and a grandfather, who seemed awfully strong for his age and kind to her: these were the only ones forming her close circle. A co-worker was becoming a fast friend. Things were going fine until one day when a macho FBI agent with a purpose landed on her turf.
Agent Garett Pierce brought an emotionally taxing job and a boatload of trouble to Julie but gave her his full and unconditional support to help her through the tribulations of being discovered by the media to be a paranormally gifted person doing the jobs of a police.
Wendy Roberts has created the perfect atmosphere through setting and ambience. She has described the bleak yet beautiful forest and waterbodies with such clarity that I could easily visualize Julie frozen with fear over the bridge, the rough or muddy terrain she had to tread as directed by the dowsing rods, her trailer she called home, the grandfather’s property.
The character of Julie Hall feels very real with her fear, her trauma, her introvert nature combined with an inborn drive to help others, protect her dog, her grandfather, friends who kick her to the curbs when she is down. She makes the reader want to wish everything stops at once but also go on turning the pages because curiosity and the thrill of hunting a serial killer is the driving force of a mystery/crime fiction-lover. The book doesn’t leave us hanging, at the same time, the writer doesn’t hold our hand and take through the nuances of everything. The mystery follows the usual crime-thriller-serial-killer-trope but doesn’t fail to satisfy the curious mind. The suspense remains intact for an admirable while, keeping the reader on the hook, reeling in and out for a fun while.
The budding romance turning into a longing passion between Julie and her new love interest is understandable and time-appropriate. Julie’s internal struggles of getting over her older though not a long-lived relationship, her troubles with the current job, her feelings for a much older man, make the story alive and keep it like that throughout.
The consequences of the first book roll into the second one, A Grave Search. Julie has a new home, she handling her life relatively well, and independently (that she always did, what I like about her), and continues with the body-finding business. Her inheritance has bought her a property in a small town where she makes new friends, stays away from triggers of old memories, and has unhealthy dinner alone on a regular basis (unless her boyfriend feeds her). She is going steady with the FBI agent and life is more or less good. Until someone shifts their attention to her.
An old school friend’s body turns up when she is working for a client and things go awry pretty soon.
The setting is bleak and beautiful like before, hilly terrain, water bodies, human bodies, a giant goofy dog completely adorable, possessive but very loving boyfriend, clients more suspicious than their cases, A Grave Search is almost as good as the first book, A Grave Calling. The twists and turns leave a lot of clues for an avid reader of mysteries to figure out the culprit without a lot of head-banging but keep the tension right up to the last page. I liked the new friend character, a little goofy but absolutely adorable.
As you can see, I enjoyed both books from the series. But there are always a few things each different reader might take in a different way. For example, I found the sex scenes a little ‘there because it must be.’ The age difference didn’t matter to me and I appreciate the author not making a middle-aged guy fawn over a young girl like a high-school boy. Even the over-protectiveness feels justified when you are under the radar of a serial killer or a potentially lethal stalker. Sometimes, the main character circles around a thought a bit too long for my taste. But the subtle wit in the author’s writing style keeps things interesting. The antagonists are not very scary as they are always found out at last and the focus of the books are always, almost always, on Julie. A sense of foreboding usual for this genre doesn’t linger long. However, the imagery of setting and Julie’s harrowing past makes up for it.
I will recommend the series Bodies of Evidence to those who like a dark mystery with a romantic touch, an interesting heroine with a past, and some paranormal spice, but aren’t looking for hardcore crime detection.
A Grave Calling by Wendy Roberts
Mystery & Thrillers, Fantasy, Paranormal Suspense
Kindle Edition: 250 pages
Published June 5th, 2017 by Carina Press
Reviewed owned book
A Grave Search by Wendy Roberts
Mystery & Thrillers, Fantasy, Paranormal Suspense
Expected publication: January 1st, 2018 by Carina Press
Review based on advanced readers copy received with gratitude from publishers Carina Press via NetGalley